Quiet room reporting criticized

Media coverage of the School District 83 “quiet room” debate

I am gravely disappointed in the media coverage of the School District 83 “quiet room” debate. As an experienced learning resource teacher, I am familiar with the structure and function of these calming spaces. CTV News and the Observer reported what I consider to be misleading and deceitful information thereby unjustly targeting our school district staff. Here is the balance to that poor reporting.

The quiet room at South Broadview Elementary is not “a small, windowless room meant for students who misbehave,” as reported by CTV.  Had the media bothered to check, they would have found a small room with a large window in the door.  Students are never left unsupervised and the room is not used for general misbehaviour.

Rather, a quiet room can be a student choice for emotional and sensory regulation or a teacher choice for a student exhibiting violent and dangerous behaviour. If a student exhibiting these behaviours cannot calm, a parent will be called for early pick up.  Often times, a few minutes of calm on a mat or in a bean bag chair allows the student to return to the learning environment. There is ongoing communication between the supervising adult and the student in the quiet room.

The Observer reported that “there is no behavior plan or individual education plan in place yet.”  All students with special needs requiring this level of support have IEPs in place. For the Observer to report otherwise is misleading and untrue.

Agreed, this is a very complex issue. Inclusion of all learners in our schools is important. There is no provincial or district solution to aggressive students in B.C. schools. We are all doing our best, working with students and parents. Your non-fact-checked, inflammatory, incorrect reporting has the potential to set this important conversation back.

In our small town, when the media singles out a school where a small team of individuals is unfairly accused, the damage is great. My colleagues deserve better. The public deserves better.

Roger Houle

 

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